Homemade Wood Turning Tools


Making your own wood-turning tools is an interesting exercise in self-sufficiency. A basic wood-turning gouge can be made inexpensively. Although it won't be as high quality as a professionally made, carbide-tipped blade, it will do the job. If you make multiple tools, they will improve in quality, as your toolmaking skills will improve with practice. Tools of many different shapes and profiles can be created by applying these basic directions to different pieces of metal: pipes of differing diameters, flat pieces of steel, and so forth.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 inch diameter steel pipe, 12 inches long
  • Hacksaw
  • Vice
  • Bench grinder
  • Piece of ash lumber, 2 inches by 2 inches by 16 inches
  • Band saw
  • Drill
  • Nail
  • Lathe
  • Sharpening stone

Shape the Pipe

  • Put the piece of pipe into the vice and secure it tightly.

  • Cut the end off of the pipe at a 45-degree angle with the hacksaw. Wood-turning gouges for different purposes can be made by shaping the ends to different angles. Generally, the sharper the angle, the finer the work to be done with the tool. A gouge with a 45-degree angle will work for general multi-purpose turning.

  • Grind a sharp edge onto this angled end using a bench grinder.

  • Hone the edge on a sharpening stone.

Make the Handle

  • Turn the handle for your tool on the lathe, using another (already made) turning tool.

  • Cut a piece of ash lumber so it is 2 inches square by 16 inches long. You can make the turning easier by cutting the corners off with a band saw to create an octagonal piece.

  • Mount the piece on the lathe, centering it between the points of the headstock and tailstock.

  • Turn the entire piece until it is cylindrical.

  • Turn 4 inches at the end of the piece of wood to a diameter that will fit very tightly inside of the metal pipe that you shaped.

  • Turn the other end of the piece of wood to a rounded end, for comfort when using it.

Assemble the Tool

  • Put the metal pipe into the vice with the sharpened end down and pressed against the wooden surface of the workbench.

  • Drive the handle into the metal pipe until it is very tight.

  • Drill a hole through the metal pipe, one inch from the end, so the hole goes directly through the side of the pipe, through the wood handle that is inside the pipe, and out the other side of the pipe.

  • Drive a nail through the hole to hold the pipe and handle together, then bend the nail back around the shaft of the pipe.

  • Test the tool for any looseness or wiggling before using it with the lathe.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lathes can be dangerous. Always wear face protection.

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  • Photo Credit tool bench image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
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